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Support For Same-Sex Marriage Reaches New High

gay-marriage

As the victories for marriage eqnuality in both the courts and the state legislatures continue to mount, a new poll shows support for same-sex marriage has reached an all-time high:

Half of all Americans believe that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll in which a large majority also said businesses should not be able to deny serving gays for religious reasons.

Fifty percent say the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection gives gays the right to marry, while 41 percent say it does not.

Beyond the constitutional questions, a record-high 59 percent say they support same-sex marriage, while 34 percent are opposed, the widest margin tracked in Post-ABC polling.

The poll was conducted in the wake of a series of rulings by federal judges that state bans on same-sex marriage and prohibitions on recognizing marriages performed elsewhere are unconstitutional.

(…)

The shifting attitudes extend beyond issues of marital rights to more basic beliefs about the nature of homosexuality and its implications for child rearing. Nearly eight in 10 say that gays can parent as well as straight people, up from just below six in 10 in a 1996 Newsweek survey.

Sixty-one percent support allowing gays to adopt a child, up from 49 percent in 2006 and 29 percent in a 1992 poll by Time magazine and CNN. More than twice as many people consider being gay as “just the way they are,” rather than something they chose.

Despite the changing views, deep chasms remain along religious, generational and political lines. Six in 10 evangelical Protestants oppose same-sex marriage, while about six in 10 Catholics, non-evangelical Protestants and eight in 10 with no religious affiliation support it. Three-quarters of Americans younger than 30 support same-sex marriage, while less than half of seniors say the same.

Although support for such unions has grown to clear majorities among Democrats (70 percent) and independents (61 percent), Republicans have moved at a slower pace. Fifty-four percent of Republicans oppose same-sex marriage in the new poll, while 40 percent approve of it.

“I just don’t believe in the marriage thing; the Bible says that isn’t right,” said Musser, who opposed the Arizona legislation on the religious rights of businesses.

Republicans are split along ideological and religious lines. Support for allowing same-sex marriage is lowest, below one-third or less, among conservatives and evangelical Protestants.

As Greg Sargent notes, the GOP, specifically the religious/conservative wing of the GOP, is pretty much alone on this issue. Outside of demographic groups such as peoiple over 65, there are almost no segments of the American public left where a majority of those surveyed oppose marriage equality. As younger generations become a more vocal part of the political process, support for same-sex marriage is only likely to increase. However, Sargent suspects that it will still be some time before we see real change on this issue from the Republican Party:

Mike Huckabee has warned that if the GOP embraces gay marriage, “they’re going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk.” And indeed, the GOP has not meaningfully evolved on gay marriage. While many Republicans condemned the Arizona anti-gay bill, the House GOP still won’t vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban anti-gay hiring discrimination. Meanwhile, so few Republican lawmakers have embraced gay marriage that when one steps forward and does so, it’s big news, a veritable act of political heroism.

Meanwhile, opposition to gay marriage among Republicans seems to be concentrated among the Tea Party. According to the Post polling team, Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who support the Tea Party oppose gay marriage by 54-38. By contrast, non-Tea Party Republicans and GOP-leaners support gay marriage by 57-36. Tea Party Republicans are often said to be more libertarian-leaning on social issues than other segments of the GOP base (such as evangelicals), but a majority of them still opposes same-sex marriage.

All of this sheds more light on the question of whether Republicans need to evolve their party to keep in step with diversifying America. As Ron Brownstein and Dem pollster Stan Greenberg have suggested, Dems may continue to profit politically in national elections from the GOP inability to broaden its appeal to segments of the electorate that include “diverse America” and the portions of white America “who are comfortable with diverse America.” If this is right, then on gay rights, the GOP continues to be captive to a base that shows no signs of wanting to move into that latter category.

Most likely, what you will see in the short term are state Republican parties attempting to differentiate themselves from the national party on this issue, especially in states on the West Coast and in the Northeast where support for same-sex marriage is strongest. What will be interesting to see, though, is what might happen to these poll numbers if, as many suspect, the Supreme Court ultimately rules that state laws against same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Will conservatives then react as they have to the abortion issue and go on a decades long crusade against so-called “judicial activism,” or will they come to accept the ruling and end up fighting rear guard actions on issues like the the rights of people of religious faith to not provide services for same-sex marriage?

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    And thus…the Republican Party gets left in the dust-bin of history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. Gustopher says:

    Within 5 years, I predict that Republicans will be routinely mentioning how it was the Democrats who held back the tide of marriage equality. Dastardly Bill Clinton with DOMA, only stopped by the Republican majority on the Supreme Court.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  3. C. Clavin says:

    @Gustopher:
    Well, of course…the same way certain commenters here like to point out that it was Democrats who voted against the CRA…completely ignoring changes in the South since then.
    Revisionist history is fantastic way to hide your embarrassments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  4. Ben says:

    According to the Post polling team, Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who support the Tea Party oppose gay marriage by 54-38. By contrast, non-Tea Party Republicans and GOP-leaners support gay marriage by 57-36.

    This right here completely obliterates any remaining shred of a claim that the Tea Party is even remotely libertarian. This is about as unlibertarian is it gets.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  5. Mikey says:

    Mike Huckabee has warned that if the GOP embraces gay marriage, “they’re going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk.”

    This would benefit the GOP immeasurably.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  6. C. Clavin says:

    @Ben:

    This right here completely obliterates any remaining shred of a claim that the Tea Party is even remotely libertarian.

    C’mon…the same small-government types want to regulate your bedroom. It’s all BS meant to fool the fundamentalists and take their money.
    Always keep in mind…The Tea Party is organized and funded by the Koch Brothers…who have received tens of millions of dollars in Government subsidies and bail-outs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  7. stonetools says:

    Abortion is different because the Republicans can plausibly talk about defending the rightsof the unborn.But conservatives have no such emotional hook on which to base their arguments against same sex marriage other than gay sex is icky.
    I think that resistance to SSM will go the way of resistance to interracial marriage-it will decline rapidly because people will simply realise that it doesn’t hurt anyone and that there is therefore no good reason to forbid it.
    And because Doug never seems to want to give credit where due, kudos again for the Democrats and the Obama Administration for advocating for SSM, even when the polls were against them. I want to give a shout out to John Kerry, who maybe lost the 2004 presidential election because the Republicans whipped upconservative religious frenzy against SSM as a way of driving conservative voters to the polls.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  8. mantis says:

    end up fighting rear guard actions on issues like the the rights of people of religious faith to not provide services for same-sex marriage?

    Correction: the “right” of people to discriminate against anyone by claiming it’s religion. They have been trying to open a much wider door than you state, and yes, they will continue to do so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  9. C. Clavin says:

    @stonetools:

    Abortion is different because the Republicans can plausibly talk about defending the rightsof the unborn.

    I suppose that depends on exactly how gullible you are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  10. al-Ameda says:

    Finally, male Republican politicians and Vladimir Putin can get married in a comprehensive ceremony on the Capitol Hill steps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. ernieyeball says:

    @stonetools: I think that resistance to SSM will go the way of resistance to interracial marriage-it will decline rapidly because people will simply realise that it doesn’t hurt anyone and that there is therefore no good reason to forbid it.

    Maybe…maybe not…
    Meet the Homers at Faith and Heritage-Occidental Christianity for preserving Western Culture and People

    We affirm that all attempts to amalgamate humans into one mixed mass are in open rebellion against God’s law and His sovereignly created boundaries.
    http://faithandheritage.com/2011/05/the-moral-status-of-miscegenation/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. stonetools says:

    @ernieyeball:

    There’s always be the crazy fringe, but opposition to gay marriage is ebbing fast. I think its happening fast enough that the USSC will feel confident about pulling the trigger and striking diown the SSM bans nationwide when it comes up before the court next time. Even if it doesnt happen next time, it will happen in the next 10 years, especially if Hillary gets to replace a couple of conservatives on the court.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. JohnMcC says:

    In another blog this morning (which I cannot find right now, darnit! and I don’t have the energy to get into the internals of the poll referenced above) the two main demographics that oppose SSM were evangelical Christians and Republicans making more than $60K annually. Which might be the same people mentioned above as Republicans described as ‘seniors’. In other words, Real Americans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools: No link, but I saw a story a few days ago on a survey of church members, various denominations. First they asked how many of your congregation members oppose gay marriage. Ran around 80%. Then they asked do you oppose gay marriage. Half or more were OK with it. So they’re mostly cool with it, but aren’t telling anybody else. Once the majority realize they are the majority and can speak up, yes, opposition will be over fast.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  15. James Pearce says:

    Will conservatives then react as they have to the abortion issue and go on a decades long crusade against so-called “judicial activism,” or will they come to accept the ruling and end up fighting rear guard actions on issues like the the rights of people of religious faith to not provide services for same-sex marriage?

    Seems like they’re leaning towards the latter…with not much enthusiasm.

    @Ben:

    This right here completely obliterates any remaining shred of a claim that the Tea Party is even remotely libertarian.

    Well, to be fair…also not libertarian: The Libertarian movement.

    They pay lip service to “liberty,” but listen closely and you’ll hear about other concerns. Indeed, I think it’s safe to say that on this issue, the official libertarian position is: Thou shalt not coerce people into baking cakes for gay couples, especially if they own and operate a bakery.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. Kylopod says:

    Tea Party Republicans are often said to be more libertarian-leaning on social issues than other segments of the GOP base (such as evangelicals), but a majority of them still opposes same-sex marriage.

    “Are often said to be.” Who says? Is there any data on this? Actually, most data I’ve seen suggests most Tea Partiers are strong social conservatives:

    “A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that Tea Party supporters tend to have conservative opinions not just about economic matters, but also about social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In addition, they are much more likely than registered voters as a whole to say that their religion is the most important factor in determining their opinions on these social issues. And they draw disproportionate support from the ranks of white evangelical Protestants.”

    Of course, if you’re comparing Tea Partiers as a group with white evangelicals as a group, it’s hardly surprising the latter would have an even larger majority opposing abortion and gay rights. All this tells us is that there are libertarians within the Tea Party movement; however, contrary to popular belief, they are not, and have never been, the dominant face of the movement. The Tea Party was always composed mostly of the GOP’s right-wing base, an already evangelical-dominated group launching what was simply the latest incarnation of the culture wars, this time with an emphasis on fiscal issues, something they’ve always had right-wing views on (remember that one of the centerpieces of Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential campaign was a Balanced Budget Amendment). Taxed Enough Already, Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare, Death Panels–it’s all part of the same package of cultural, religious and racial resentments that gave us the Federal Marriage Amendment, the Human Life Amendment, the Flag Desecration Amendment, school prayer, creationism, and so on. Anyone who thought differently–that it was an actual uprising of secular, CATO-style libertarians–was being played for a fool.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  17. ernieyeball says:

    @James Pearce: Well, to be fair…also not libertarian: The Libertarian movement.

    Is Rand Paul the Great Libertarian Hope? Who knows…
    Apparently he thinks it’s ok for States and the people to restrict the freedom of gay folks to wed based on “the historic and religious definition of marriage”. Whatever that might mean.
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rand-paul-gay-marriage-court-illegitimate

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. James Pearce says:

    @ernieyeball:

    Apparently he thinks it’s ok for States and the people to restrict the freedom of gay folks to wed based on “the historic and religious definition of marriage”. Whatever that might mean.

    I have to give Paul some props, though. The “historic and religious definition of marriage” stuff is a bone he threw to the right-wing voters who elected him. He couldn’t really lead with that, though, because really…..who gives a crap about one’s historical assessments or religious beliefs?

    The really good stuff is the state’s rights stuff. He knows damn well that a court ruling is the most likely way this issue is going to be decided. The Congress he belongs to isn’t going to pass a law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Kylopod says:

    @ernieyeball: Federalism (or as I like to call it, fauxderalism) has always been one of the essential components to the alliance between conservatives who care about social issues and those who don’t. Not only does it enable both groups to appear to be on the same page, it gives both plausible deniability — “I’m not against gays, I’m for letting the states choose their own destiny.” Of course this excuse can get a little muddy when the same person, in the next breath, supports amending the constitution on the issue:

    “Paul supports the [Christian Coalition] survey question on [a Federal Marriage Amendment] banning same-sex marriage.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0